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Monday, 8 October 2012

Deadly Meningitis In US Grows To 91 Cases

Two Michiganders have died as a result of an eight-state outbreak of fungal meningitis that was likely caused by a contaminated steroid medicine used to treat back pain, state and federal health officials say.
The toll of cases nationwide soared Sunday by 27 to a total of 91, while the number of deaths stayed at seven, health officials said.
Unlike other forms of meningitis, the fungal type is not contagious, but those who received an epidural steroid injection starting May 21 could have received the contaminated medicine, health officials advised Sunday.
Anyone who received a contaminated injection likely would have become severely ill within a week, said Dr. William Sanders, division head of Interventional Neuro-Radiology at Henry Ford Hospital.
The number of known patients in Michigan infected with the usually rare fungal meningitis spiraled from six on Friday to 20 by Sunday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said.
Tennessee, where the outbreak is thought to have begun, had the most cases -- 32, including three deaths -- while Virginia had 18 with one death, and Maryland three cases with one death, a CDC spokesman said.
According to the CDC, the fungus causing the illness is thought to have contaminated the steroid medicine at some point during processing by the New England Compounding Center, a drug manufacturer in Massachusetts. The company shipped the compound to 76 health care facilities in 23 states, including four in Michigan: the Michigan Neurological Institute of Grand Blanc, Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton, the Neurological & Rehabilitation in Traverse City and Southeast Michigan Surgical Hospital in Warren.
"Each of these centers should have contacted anyone who might have received an injection," CDC spokesman Curtis Allen said. "We've requested that they do so."
A full list of the health care providers that received the suspect medicine can be found at www.cdc.gov .
Over the weekend, the Massachusetts firm voluntarily recalled all of its lots of injectable steroid medication after initially recalling only three suspect lots, the CDC said Sunday.
The contaminated injections are not to be confused with "the type of epidural injection that pregnant women get when delivering a baby -- that's nonsteroidal," he said.
"This is a fungal form of the disease. It's very different from the forms that most people are familiar with, either bacterial or viral," Allen said.
Patients stricken with fungal meningitis typically suffer strokes, he said. Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord.
Federal and state health officials have said that recipients of the steroid injections should contact their doctors immediately if they experience any of the following symptoms: severe headache, nausea, dizziness, fever, heightened sensitivity to light, a stiff neck or any fresh feeling of weakness or numbness.
EXPLORE: Lifestyle     Marijuana     Teen Smoking     Drug War     Health      West Nile Virus      Prevention     Yosemite Hantavirus    Deadly Meningitis

Edited By Cen Fox Post Team

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